Police fire tear gas and arrest 100 in Paris as yellow vests protest

Anti-government ‘gilets jaunes’ protesters hold 45th consecutive Saturday of action

A yellow vest protester stands in front of burning electric scooters during clashes with riot police  in Paris on Saturday. Photograph: Lucas Barioulet/AFP/Getty

A yellow vest protester stands in front of burning electric scooters during clashes with riot police in Paris on Saturday. Photograph: Lucas Barioulet/AFP/Getty

 

French police fired tear gas and made over a hundred arrests in Paris on Saturday as they dispersed “yellow vest” protesters attempting unauthorised rallies and black-masked demonstrators who disrupted a climate march.

Police had made 137 arrests in Paris by mid-afternoon and had pushed back about 100 protesters who gathered on the Champs-Elysees shopping avenue, the Paris police prefecture said.

The government deployed a massive police presence as it feared yellow-vest supporters and other activists, including “black bloc” anarchists, would take advantage of authorised protests over climate change and pension reform.

Some 7,500 police were mobilised, several districts including the Champs-Elysees were made out of bounds for protests, and over 30 metro stations were closed.

The climate rally saw sporadic confrontations between police and masked demonstrators who had infiltrated the march.

Black bloc anarchists

Groups wearing black clothing associated with the so-called black bloc anarchist movement formed barricades, set fire to bins and a motorbike, and threw paint over the front of a bank.

A woman remonstrates with riot police during an anti-government yellow-vest demonstration on Saturday in Paris. The yellow-vest (gilets jaunes) protests first erupted last November. Photograph: Zakaria Abdelkafi/AFP/Getty
A woman remonstrates with riot police during an anti-government yellow-vest demonstration on Saturday in Paris. The yellow-vest (gilets jaunes) protests first erupted last November. Photograph: Zakaria Abdelkafi/AFP/Getty

Similar skirmishes occurred later in the march with the prefecture again attributing violence to the black blocs. Police responded with tear gas.

The violence tarnished an otherwise peaceful march that brought thousands of people, including some yellow vests, onto the streets, a day after marches in Paris and other cities worldwide to demand government action against climate change.

Demonstrators carried slogans such as “End oil now” and “End of the world”, while some held carnival effigies, including one of President Emmanuel Macron wearing a crown marked “King of bla-bla”.

A man holds up a yellow vest in front of the Arc de Triomphe on the Champs Elysees in Paris during an anti-government demonstration on Saturday. Photograph: Lucas Barioulet/AFP/Getty
A man holds up a yellow vest in front of the Arc de Triomphe on the Champs Elysees in Paris during an anti-government demonstration on Saturday. Photograph: Lucas Barioulet/AFP/Getty

The yellow vests, named after motorists’ high-visibility jackets, were holding a 45th consecutive Saturday of action. The movement emerged late last year, triggered by fuel tax rises and swelling into a revolt against Mr Macron’s style of government.

Some of their protests have been marked by rioting, partly blamed on the black blocs.

A separate march on Saturday was called by the FO trade union to contest the government’s planned overhaul of France’s retirement system. The proposed reform prompted a strike by metro workers on September 13th, shutting most of the underground network.

The authorities have also been taking precautions so protesters do not disrupt an annual heritage event this weekend that gives the public special access to many historic sites.

Some sites such as the Arc de Triomphe monument have been closed while others including the Elysee presidential palace have required visitors to register in advance. – Reuters